Ryan Napier (Tufts University)
hundred years after her birth, Eliot remains central to discussions of literary
realism and nineteenth-century intellectual life. Her work also bears on many contemporary
concerns. For instance, most critics have seen Eliot as an exemplar of
liberalism; her work thus helps us think about our own political arrangements
and the much-discussed “retreat of liberalism.” Likewise, Eliot’s treatment of
gender has been much debated, and her position in relation to the varieties of
feminism is still contentious. And in her final novel, Daniel Deronda, Eliot used Zionism to explore the intersections of
cultures and peoples; the novel offers controversial answers to important questions
about history, identity, and empire.
This panel will probe the legacy of Eliot on her centennial. Panelists may present on individual Eliot works (fiction, criticism, translation) or her oeuvre and life more generally. Where have Eliot studies been, and where are they going? Why read Eliot in the twenty-first century?